I am by no means a seasoned runner. I have been working on becoming a runner for a little over a year now, and it has been a seriously difficult journey. Sometimes, I would go to run and just feel so discouraged because it just wasn’t coming easily. Running is one of those things that I never thought I would care to do. Two years ago, it would have been totally normal to hear me say, “I do not run. Even if a zombie was chasing me, I would not run. I would just die,” or, you know, something along those lines. I was incredibly out of shape, eating horribly, and the only marathons I was concerned with were of the Netflix variety.
Last year, though, I got serious about my weight loss. I decided it was time to stop complaining about how I looked and how none of my clothes fit anymore, and actually do something about it. Part of that was starting some sort of exercise regimen, and, after becoming obsessed with a blog all about running, I thought it might be something I could do, too.
Like I said, I am not a great runner. I go through random spurts of wanting to exercise every day and then going days without doing any intentional exercise at all (Netflix marathons aside). When David and I first started running, we weren’t using any sort of training program or anything like that, and I think that hurt us in the long run (no pun intended–who am I kidding, the pun was totally intended!). We both ran our first mile in October, but didn’t really improve much after that. After recently starting over with Couch to 5K, we seem to be making a lot of progress. We are taking it slow and are currently in Week 6.
If you are someone interested in becoming a runner, I encourage you to go for it. I am still so very new to this, but I hope these five tips from a very-beginner-runner will help you in your desire to become a runner, as well. I’m so new to this and have so far to go, but I am very excited to share with you what I’ve learned so far on this exciting journey.
1. Just go for it. This might seem obvious, but a lot of people never even try because they are too afraid to fail. I can totally relate to this way of thinking because I am terrified of failure. But as long as you try, you are not failing. As long as you don’t give up, you are not failing. You don’t have to be fast or run far–you just have to go outside or jump on the treadmill and give it a shot. Don’t worry if you can only run ten seconds (or less!) before you feel near collapse; it will get easier, and you will feel pretty stinking awesome when that day comes.
2. Start small. It’s very easy to get discouraged if you try to do too much in the very beginning. No one runs out their back door the first day as a runner and completes a marathon. It’s not realistic, and it’s not going to happen. Give yourself really small goals, like running to the end of your driveway or to the nearest tree or to the mailbox. As these small goals get accomplished, you can work up to more difficult goals and feel super accomplished as you improve. When we first started running, Couch to 5K was too difficult for us (it took us a long time before we could do it, but we are going strong now!). If you find that to be the case, make up your own training program. Be realistic, and consider signing up for a 5K to keep you motivated and determined to stay on track. Make sure the 5K is several weeks or months away so you have plenty of time to prepare for it.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t worry about how far behind someone else you may be. This isn’t a competition with anyone else; this is all about improving yourself. Comparison is absolutely the thief of joy, and there’s no need to compare yourself to anyone else on your running journey. Running is something that you don’t need to be competitive with (if you don’t want to be), but, if you do enjoy the competition, just compete against yourself. Work on running farther or faster than you did last time, rather than worrying about other people’s times and distances. This is your journey, no one else’s.
4. It’s all in your head. As our distance to run is lengthening on our Couch to 5K journey, I sometimes have to give myself pep talks to get through it. I’m currently in Georgia, where the heat and humidity are thick and I am covered in sweat all too quickly when I go for a run. Those pep talks keep me going when I really want to quit. I just talk to myself inside my head (I promise I’m not crazy!), imagining what it would be like to cross the finish line of a race, one that I ran the entire distance. I thank God for giving me the strength to keep going when it starts getting really tough. I think positive thoughts, and it truly helps me so much. It might seem a little quirky, but I like quirky, and it’s working for me. When you start feeling like giving up, remember why you started. It makes a big difference. Side note: Sometimes, you do need to take a break, and that’s totally fine, too. I have just found all-too-often that your mind wants to give up long before your body is zapped of all energy, so positive thoughts keep me going farther than the negative thoughts ever would.
5. You are a runner. It’s easy to feel like you aren’t a runner when you go to work out and end up walking more than running. Maybe you’ve tried to run a race and had to stop and walk. Listen. You are still a runner. This is something I’m still working on. I am very guilty of calling myself a “wannabe runner” all the time, when I should call myself a runner. Period. I have always felt like runners are this elite group of people who run at least ten miles every single day (maybe that’s just Chris Traeger from Parks & Rec?), but that isn’t true. Runners are people who come in all shapes and sizes and run fast or slow or far or short distances. Runners take walk breaks, too. And, if you are running or trying to run, then you are a runner. It’s as simple as that. PS: The running community is so nice, too. Every time David and I pass runners when we go to run, they always smile and wave or say hello and it makes me feel so good inside.
I hope this encourages you to tie up your laces, throw on your adorable running clothes, and get out there and run! Because you can do it. No matter how long it takes, no matter how many walk breaks you need, you have got this.
Fellow runners: What are some things you’ve learned on your running journeys?
This post has been linked up on Jebbica’s World.